Place of Capture: Medallands Bugt, Iceland
Date of Capture: October 25, 1976
Age at Capture: Approx. less than 1 year
On October 25, 1976, two young female Orcas were captured in Medallands Bugt, Iceland; later known as Gudrun and Kenau, the two were soon transferred to Dolphinarium Harderwijk in the Netherlands.
While Kenau’s stay was short, Gudrun stayed at the Dolphinarium for 11 years. The park never purchased any Orcas, though they did house a number of whales prior to their final transfers in 1977. This meant that after 1978, Gudrun’s only companions were smaller species of dolphin.
In 1987, however, when Gudrun grew larger and reached sexual maturity, she was sent to SeaWorld Orlando on a “breeding loan”. It wasn’t long after her arrival that she began having issues.
When she arrived in Florida, Katina, the park’s dominant female, repeatedly showed dominance over Gudrun by shoving and raking the young female. SeaWorld also began breeding her almost immediately.
She was reportedly locked in a back pool with the park’s bull, Kanduke, who relentlessly chased her around the tank, trying to penetrate her repeatedly and often succeeding in doing so. This resulted in Gudrun becoming pregnant with her first calf, a female later known as Taima.
Born in 1989 during a summer storm, Taima’s name was a Native American name meaning “crash of thunder”. Officials were unsure of what kind of a mother Gudrun would be since she had spent the majority of her time with Bottlenose Dolphins. However, Gudrun proved herself to be more than competent as a mother, and within a year, Gudrun and Taima were performing daily in Shamu Stadium.
Gudrun had ‘perfect’ markings and a remarkably straight dorsal fin, making her the perfect candidate for shows and photos. Even while heavily pregnant, she was asked to present on the slide-out so children could be sat on her back for photos during shows. She was also used often for promotional ads for SeaWorld. Though, presenting on the slide-out while pregnant meant that the full force of Gudrun’s weight was putting immense pressure on the unborn fetus.
When Kanduke died in 1990, he was replaced in 1992 with an Icelandic bull named Tilikum. Staff at the park had been disturbed to see the way Kanduke had treated Gudrun. Though, both Gudrun and Taima seemed to take to Tilikum very well after he arrived, as opposed to Katina, who often harassed the bull - unless she was in estrus and wanted to mate.
Gudrun and Tilikum apparently spent a lot of time together, and were described by some as being very ‘harmonious’. Even when the pair mated it was described in the same way, as the two whales swam slowly together in a back pool with Gudrun allowing Tilikum to swim behind, and then underneath her - an entirely different scene from when Kanduke mated with Gudrun.
However, on December 31, 1993, Gudrun gave birth to her second calf, a female known as Nyar. Trainers noticed that the calf was seemingly physically and mentally unsound and had trouble swimming correctly. Gudrun rejected the calf and attempted to drown her several times before staff separated the pair.
From then on, Nyar made little progress. Blood tests showed that she suffered from Immunosuppression; she had trouble learning and was deemed unfit for shows. Instead, she often spent time in the company of her father, Tilikum, who treated her with ‘great gentleness’.
Almost immediately after Nyar, Gudrun was impregnated again in 1994.
On February 21, 1996, Gudrun went into labor. The park’s veterinarian could not get a pulse on the calf, and it was presumed dead. However, Gudrun had already been in labor for a while, and wasn’t expelling the calf. In order to try to remove it, staff brought her into the medical pool and drained it to immobilize Gudrun.
A cable was put into her vagina, wrapped around the flukes of the calf, and the calf was manually winched out of Gudrun’s body. After the calf was expelled, Gudrun began to hemorrhage severely, and was likely in immense pain throughout the entire process. Her dorsal fin collapsed due to dehydration, she refused to eat, and ignored any attempts by people to make contact with her. She remained motionless in one spot, unprotected from the sun, so SeaWorld staff had to slather her back in zinc oxide.
When Gudrun finally stopped bleeding, she remained in the same spot for 4 days, as her caretakers did what they could to try to nurse her back to health.
On the fourth day, Gudrun finally moved and swam slowly over to the gate where Nyar was watching her. Gudrun gently nudged Nyar through the gate, as if to ask for forgiveness.
A few hours later, on February 25, 1996, Gudrun died due to complications of her stillbirth, including Septicemia and Bacteremia associated with Endomyometritis.
and…what exactly is SeaWorld’s thought process here?
Yesterday, they stuck Orkid, Makani, and a heavily pregnant Kalia in the medical pool and lifted them completely out of the water. Orkid is thrashing around, and the male trainer is trying to forcefully rip that thing (whatever it is, not 100% sure) out of Kalia’s mouth.
Why would they make Kalia lay out of the water like that when she’s getting close to the end of her pregnancy? Regardless of how long she was physically out of the water, it is not a wise move to do that to a whale who is so young and so pregnant.
Look at the size difference between an adult female like Orkid and Kalia though. I still don’t understand when Seaworld irresponsibly bred Kalia when they have an adult female who is completely unrelated to any of their animals and who has experience raising calves in Shouka.
At the end of the video you can see all three of them are quite desperate to get back to water they can actually physically move in. Why was this necessary? Orkid spent most of the time thrashing around, Makani was apparently separated from Kasatka just so they could hoist him out of the water, and Kalia is heavily pregnant. Which of Seaworld’s ‘world class’ animal care team decided this was a good idea?
I cannot believe how extraordinarily painful that must have been. Screw “uncomfortable” — there’s a reason whales DIE when they strand. Their organs *need* the buoyancy of the water.
Side note: I find it ironic that Kalia wouldn’t give up the rope WHEN THE WHOLE POINT OF THE RISING FLOORS IS TO GET AN ORCA TO LET GO OF ITS VICTIM. Once again proving the point that once an orca has its mind made up about what it wants to do, no amount of protocol or safety measures can stop them unfortunately.
Steal its Look : ‘Dashcon Ballpit’
Ballpit Dress - $17,000
Dark Blue Crocs - $1,785
This is going too far
While SeaWorld continues to dig its heels in – pointing out that tens of thousands of visitors are in its parks right now – others are responding more progressively. In 2012 the National Aquarium in Baltimore, cancelled its performances. Since then visitors have been able to sit and watch the dolphins as they are simply taken care of by staff. Now, the aquarium is considering retiring their eight bottlenose dolphins altogether and is in talks to create the first ocean-side dolphin sanctuary in the US. Its decision was based on regular polling of visitors; it learned that people no longer felt comfortable with the show.
Others are following suit. This September, the Clearwater Aquarium in Florida announced it would also end animal shows, choosing to focus on rehabilitation and marine resources instead. When asked by the Guardian if SeaWorld would ever consider a similar move, the company said the terms “retire” and “sanctuary” are misplaced in the context of animal care. But added: “The short answer is no.”
However, even if there isn’t a future for such attractions in the west, many conservationists are concerned that the problem could move elsewhere.
“In other parts of the world, like China, the industry is growing exponentially. In the last 10 years we’ve seen around 50 aquaria opening up in China that have captive belugas, bottlenose dolphins and now they’re looking at orcas as well. So, while we’re making progress in one part of the world, things are not going so well in other places.”
In SW’s August second-quarter report, CEO Jim Atchison announced “significant progress in our plans to expand our theme parks outside the US”, and indicating that the company has signed a letter of intent to co-develop parks in Asia, India and Russia.
Source: “Marine park attractions: can they survive?” by The Guardian
Don’t fight it we’ve been running for far too long.
We’re going back where we belong.